The God of War series is known for classic Greek mythology, a tale of vengeance, massive set-pieces, quick-time events, and buckets of blood and gore After defeating the gods in God of War 3, Sony Santa Monica decided to take protagonist Kratos back to the beginning. God of War: Ascension tells how Kratos breaks his oath to Ares, the original God of War, is tortured by the Furies for doing so, and goes on a quest to destroy them and stop the visions of his wife and child who died at his hand; or something like that.
After five go-arounds with Kratos, his story is starting to wear a bit thin. Ascension jumps around a bit, with the story placing Kratos at the Furies’ front door before taking things back a few weeks. The story, or what seems to pass for a story anyway, is fragmented and tired. We’ve seen this all before. Someone angers Kratos, he goes around refusing help and kicks the crap out of anyone who gets in his way. In a time when story has become a huge part of games, this kind of repetitive monotony is unacceptable.
With such a disappointing story, maybe Ascension makes up for it in gameplay, right? Let’s break down the gameplay in a very simple way: mash buttons, execute quick-time event, rinse and repeat. Kratos has his trademark blades and is granted magical abilities by each of the higher gods of Olympus that are upgradeable using-yep, you guessed it-red experience orbs. The set-pieces and quick time events are predictable. Most of the puzzles are slight variations of ones from other games. Perhaps my biggest gripe with Ascension, and with a lot of other games these days, is the constant hand-holding. I don’t need to camera to zoom in to my next destination or objective every time I get to a new area. It’s insulting.
This time around, God of War has a secret weapon: multiplayer. After a few hours dabbling in this section, I was surprised at how well it works. Is it tacked on? Yes. Is it unnecessary? Yes. But, it is worth trying. There are a few different modes, some versus and some co-op. You get to slightly tweak your character’s design and level up their skills. There’s nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking here. Multiplayer is good for a few hours of fun and that’s about it.
I didn’t hate God of War: Ascension. It had a few shining moments that were unfortunately overshadowed by a subpar story and repetitive gameplay. Kratos is still a badass. The multiplayer mode is fun for a bit. If you’re a God of War aficionado, then I would say this game is worth a look. If you haven’t adventured with Kratos before, don’t make this your first foray into his rage.